Lake County Film Festival 2022 announces festival dates, initial features slate


The 12th Lake County Film Festival returns to The College Of Lake County for two weekends of independent films. Today they announce their opening night screenings, as well as the first 19 films in this year’s slate. 

The film festival begins on Thursday, November 3rd with a free presentation of the student short film competition. Two collections of short films will be shown, one of documentaries and one of narratives. A jury will pick one winner from each program, which will be awarded a $250 cash prize from The College Of Lake County. 

The shorts screenings will be followed by a screening of Patrick Read Johnson’s 5-25-77. A Lake County native, Johnson has been working on the film, about his life growing up in Lake County, for 18 years, and LCFF audiences were the first to see footage of the film in 2005. Over the years, audiences have seen many different versions of the film, but we will be screening the final version, which releases on Blu-ray and DVD 5 days later, on November 8th.

“Having spent the first 18 years of my life there… Lake County is a big part of my DNA” Johnson said, “And no matter how far away I travel from it, it always follows me… and makes itself a part of most all of the things I create, in some way or another.  I hope you enjoy the film it inspired. And I KNOW you’ll get at least ONE line in the film better than anybody who isn’t FROM Lake County!”

The festival continues with screenings November 4th through 6th, takes a break during the week, and returns November 11th through the 14th, with closing night feature and awards announcements on Monday the 14th.


Of local interest, How (not) to Build A School in Haiti, which Chicago-native & festival alumni Jack Newell (Tells & My Lovers Moods – LCFF 2007, Monuments – LCFF 2020) has been working on for ten years. The documentary follows American contractor Tim Myers as he attempts to build a school in Haiti. 


The festival also has two Chicago-centric narrative features. Relative is the newest film by Michael Glover Smith (Rendezvous In Chicago – LCFF 2019), a comedy/drama about three days in the life of a modern American family. Relative has been playing at film festivals around the country, and playing theatrical engagements all around Chicagoland this summer to rave reviews. 

Additionally, Provo is the award-winning debut feature from Chicago’s Emma Thatcher. Provo is a powerful story about a self-destructive ex-Mormon living in Chicago who finds out her estranged, abusive father is on his deathbed in Provo, Utah. What follows is the road-trip she embarks on across the country to reckon with her past. Provo won the Audience Award at both of the film festivals it has played at so far. 

Another exciting narrative film is Waheed AlQawasmi’s debut feature film, Jacir. Jacir (Malek Rahbani in his feature acting debut) is a Syrian refugee who has resettled in Memphis in search of a new life. Jacir struggles with his poor English, his work life, trying to win over a new love interest, an ICE agent, and his troublesome new neighbor Meryl (Lorraine Bracco)

The first 19 titles of the 2022 Lake County Film Festival are as follows: 

Documentary Features

Back To The Drive-In (d. April Wright)
When the pandemic hit, drive-ins were suddenly the only safe venue in town, with press coverage about how drive-ins are “back,” and how they are thriving, but this documentary goes behind the headlines to learn the truth, spending a whole night with 11 very different drive-ins in 8 states all over the country, from preparations before the customers arrive, to selling tickets, opening the snack bar, and getting the movie on screen, we discover these family-owned businesses are actually struggling to survive.

Bernie Langille Wants To Know What Happened To Bernie Langille (d. Jackie Torrens)
Bernie Langille Wants To Know What Happened To Bernie Langille recreates the world of a family mystery in miniature, as a man sets out to uncover the truth around the strange and unresolved death of his grandfather, who died in 1968. This film examines the legacy of family narratives and the impact on individual identity.

Elemental, Reimagining Our Relationship With Wildlife (d. Trip Jennings)
As fire seasons grow longer, more destructive and more deadly, it is clear that our approach to reducing wildfire risk is failing. This film brings cutting edge science and indigenous knowledge into focus. It forces us, from city dwellers to seasoned fire professionals to rural citizens , to question what we believe and offers a science based way forward to live and thrive with fire.

Honk (d. Cheryl Allison)
Dumped and alone at a city park, Honk spends his days dodging cars, begging for food and looking for friends. When Cheryl and Honk’s path cross unexpectedly, what follows is a story in which fairy tales are made. Alumni: Hiding In Daylight – LCFF2019

How (not) to Build a School in Haiti (d. Jack Newell
Development, history, and colonialism collide when a seemingly simple aid project spirals out of control in Haiti. Headstrong American Tim Myers clashes with Haitian leader Anselme Saimplice, forcing a reckoning on privilege and power. Alumni: Tells – LCFF 2007, My Lovers Moods – LCFF 2007, Monuments – LCFF2020

Jack Has A Plan (d. Bradley Berman
When Jack, a man with a terminal brain tumor for 25 years, decides to end his life, his family and friends struggle to accept his decision. Jack’s best friend documents his three-year quest to die a happy man, culminating in a permanent going-away party.

The Light We Share (d. Mattie Waters & Jules Downum)
In early 2020, Chattanooga-based dance company Pop-up Project received a substantial amount of funding in order to produce a seven week show. When the pandemic halted live productions worldwide we took the opportunity to use the funding to share personal stories from our dance community.

Through dance, music, and film, we explore what it means to embody diverse experiences – physically and emotionally. In doing so, we invite the viewer along for the journey via vulnerable stories offered by 7 individuals in our dance community.

Objects (d. Vincent Liota
Objects follows three unique people who have held onto things which have gained incredible meaning for them over decades. These objects are not things they flaunt. They are things that touch them secretly…a fifty-year-old clump of grass, a sweater that once belonged to a French actress, and a forty-year old sugar egg.

Narrative Features

5-25-77 (d. Patrick Read Johnson)
During the spring of 1977, sci-fi obsessed teenager Pat Johnson (John Francis Daley) finds himself torn between making 8mm sequels to his favorite movies and pursuing the girl of his dreams, Linda. Desperate to help her son escape his likely future in Wadsworth, Illinois, (population 750), his mother Janet (Colleen Camp) cold-calls the editor of ‘American Cinematographer’ magazine and Pat soon finds himself on “the ultimate trip” to Hollywood, becoming the very first outsider to see the film that would change him (and movies) forever… Star Wars. But when Pat returns to his hometown, he struggles to choose between chasing a seemingly impossible dream and accepting the comforting familiarity of home.

Disfluency (d. Anna Baumgarten
After failing her final college class, Jane returns home to her family’s lake house and–with the help of her friends and family–she comes to terms with the confusing trauma that derailed her senior year.

Jacir (جاسر) (d. Waheed AlQawasmi)
A gritty drama that explores the life events between Jacir, an orphaned Syrian refugee who settles in a rough neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee, and Meryl, an opioid addicted ultra conservative shut-in who is fearful of immigrants and minority families in her area. And the unlikely friendship that forms between them.

Out And About (d. Peter Callahan)
Inside the mind of a middle aged man as he tries to come to terms with his life over the course of an afternoon walk through his hometown.

Provo (d. Emma Thatcher)
A self-destructive ex-Mormon finds out her abusive father is on his deathbed and road trips to Utah to reckon with her past. The first feature from Chicago resident Emma Thatcher has already been awarded Audience Choice at Wyoming Film Festival & The Chicago Underground Film Festival.

Relative (d. Michael Glover Smith)
As members of the Frank family come together for a college graduation party in Chicago, they find their bonds being tested – and strengthened – in surprising ways.

Rockin’ The Suburbs Features

Big Old Goofy World: The Story Of Oh Boy Records (d. Joshua Britt & Neilson Hubbard)
BIG OLD GOOFY WORLD is the story of the little record label that could! Founded by the great John Prine and his two managing partners Al Bunetta and Dan Einstein. This film traces the 40 year history from its origins as a mail order business to a thriving family operated label in Nashville, TN. The everyman hero story of one artist believing in himself and his fans to help reinvent the music industry and create a path for today’s artists to stay independent. The film features previously unseen footage and untold stories.

The Innocents (d. Wojciech Lorenc)
Follow two acclaimed musicians who are determined to use their talents to advocate for social justice. Allen Otte and John Lane tour the country with their performance of The Innocents – a piece created to shine a spotlight on the growing problem of wrongful convictions in the United States. Using a variety of found-object and home-made instruments, electronic soundscapes, and spoken texts, the performer-composers endeavor to explore various aspects of the issues surrounding wrongful imprisonment and exoneration in the American criminal justice system: mistaken identity, incarceration, injustice, politics, psychology, and resilience. The film culminates with a performance attended by Anna Vasquez – an exoneree, who spent 13 years in a Texas prison system for a crime which never happened.

Roots Of Fire (d. Abby Berendt Lavoi & Jeremey Lavoi
The battle to revive dying tradition comes to life through the young musicians of Southwest Louisiana in this powerful musical documentary. Amidst shuttered rural dance clubs and encroaching globalization, five Grammy award-winning artists lend their voices, examine the discrimination that almost erased their customs, and share the unique sounds created when the forces of fresh talent and deep history collide to fight for cultural survival.

That Thing That Sound (d. Kelsey Hammer-Parks & Nathan M. Emerson
That Thing That Sound explores the uncertain future of the steel guitar, an instrument primarily played by older, white men. Because it’s an expensive and challenging instrument, most young and diverse musicians do not have access to steel guitars or instructors. The film follows a man’s journey to pass on his knowledge and keep the steel guitar alive.

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